WAYLON JENNINGS – THE LOST NASHVILLE SESSIONS
A new album from Waylon Jennings is a major event in Country music, even if the tracks originated in 1970. On July 13 of that year, Jennings was booked to record a few songs at a studio named Music City Recorders in Nashville. The studio was owned by Scotty Moore who is best remembered as the guitarist who worked with Elvis Presley on his early hits on the Sun label.
Jennings’ sessions at Music City Recorders were part of a series of 15-minute programs sponsored by the United States Armed Services. The programs were then transferred to vinyl discs and sent out to approximately 2,000 radio stations to encourage recruitment. Jennings was just one of several Country artists who appeared in these programs that featured the artist singing a few songs with a small backing group of musicians and talking to the show’s host. After a brief rehearsal, each song was usually recorded in a single ‘take.’
Virtually none of those vinyl discs remain in existence because radio stations would usually play them on-air one time and then simply discard them. Fortunately, the original master tapes remained virtually undamaged and were recently found by Thomas Gramuglia of Country Rewind Records who realized that Waylon Jennings still has a large following of loyal fans.
The tapes were dusted off and assigned to Grammy Award winning producer and musician Robby Turner whose job it was to enhance the recordings to “21st Century audio standards” while maintaining the spontaneous feel of the original session. This was a labor of love for Turner who knew Jennings personally and had played and toured with him for many years.
The fourteen tracks kick off with a version of “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” the uptempo song that reached Number Two on the Billboard Country charts for Jennings in 1968, followed by “The Chokin’ Kind,” a heart-wrenching ballad perfectly suited to his soulful voice.
Several of the tracks are what you’d expect: versions of his then-recent hits such as “Stop the World and Let Me Off” and “Green River” plus the two mentioned above. But on this album we get to hear him put the Jennings spin on “Macarthur Park” and “Love of the Common People,” possibly Jennings’ favorite of all the songs he recorded. In his autobiography, he says of that song, “The lyrics were especially meaningful, for a poor country boy who had worked his way up from 'a dream you could cling to' to a spot in the working world of country music."
Among my favorite tracks here: “Anita You’re Dreaming,” a song written by Jennings and Don Bowman that barely made a dent in the charts in 1965, and the rarity “Young Widow Brown.” It is also a thrill to hear his version of “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” written by fellow ‘outlaw country’ artist, Kris Kristofferson.
These ‘lost’ sessions have been found and restored to delight Waylon Jennings’ longtime fans – and perhaps turn on a new generation who will discover his music via this album.
Full disclosure: At the request of Country Rewind Records’ Executive Producer Tom Gramuglia, I wrote the album liner notes for “Waylon Jennings: The Lost Nashville Sessions.”
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Cd Review by Preshis Harris for Country Music News International